Mr. Conrad Sangma
Govt. of Meghalaya
Subject : On the Response to COVID 19 Pandemic in Meghalaya
Greetings from the working classes and concerned citizens of Meghalaya.
We are in solidarity with the efforts of the state to confront the global crisis wrought by the Novel Corona virus. It is only by social solidarity and by thinking beyond our individual safety that we can come out of this crisis with our social fabric intact. If communities together are not safe, no individual is safe. If the working classes, disadvantaged and poor are not able to take safety measures, the disease will reach everyone sooner or later. Assurance of minimum income support and assurance of good emergency response— both will help ensure that everyone, including the poor, can adopt social distancing.
We as a movement feel that the battle against COVID19 is not only to protect lives and but also livelihoods. All measures such as social distancing and lockdowns will fail if this relationship between lives and livelihoods is not acknowledged. Therefore we are suggesting following measures that can be a part of the people oriented strategy against the pandemic in Meghalaya.
1. Livelihoods lost through lockdowns should be compensated both for the Urban unorganized sector and Rural farming sector through cash transfers based on official minimum wage or a minimum income support. Each working family should get at least a Skilled Daily wage for each work day lost.
2. Material relief in rural areas is important. Increase amount of rations (and make it absolutely free) distributed through existing PDS systems for BPL families. All BPL families should get free rations for at least two months.
3. Fair Price Shops should be augmented with more essential goods for sale and for everyone, BPL and APL.
4. Mid Day meals/Anganwadi SNP should be provided to school children at home
5. Farmers who have taken loans through the Kisan Credit Card for vegetable production should get a relief through moratorium on payment of interest and principal amortization.
6. All the muster roll/work charge employees/contract workers/private school teachers/retail workers should get paid leave for the period of lock downs.
7. For the period of lockdown and for any respiratory tract infections or suspected novel corona virus symptoms, the hospitalization or OPD charges and testing should be free.
8. Public Health Workers, both in private and public sector, should be protected through incentives and all proper medical equipment
9. All areas, not just municipal areas, should be fumigated.
10. All the markets and shops and offices should have adequate number of handwashing/sanitizing stations
11. Proper transparency in the information being shared about the pandemic and all actions taken to confront the pandemic should be explained and shared.
12. Rumour-mongers should be held responsible for their actions.
13. Any hoarders of essential goods and those overcharging should be immediately charged under relevant sections of the law.
14. Anyone found discriminating against infected patients should be punished.
15. Any organization encouraging meetings and assemblies should be actively discouraged.
As a movement and organization of working classes in Meghalaya, we would like to offer our active support in fighting this pandemic by sharing scientifically accurate information and helping with structures which are put in place to encourage social distancing as well as proper personal hygiene practices. We are in this together and we shall win this fight against this pandemic.
Sincerely Yours, Mantre Passah Co-ordinator (Thma U Rangli Juki)
Kenneth Swer Secretary (Workers’ Power of Meghalaya)